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1530s, perhaps from German Krausebeere or Kräuselbeere, related to Middle Dutch croesel "gooseberry," and to German kraus "crispy, curly" [Klein, etc.]. Under this theory, gooseberry would be folk etymology. But OED editors find no reason to prefer this to a literal reading, because "the grounds on which plants and fruits have received names associating them with animals are so commonly inexplicable, that the want of appropriateness in the meaning affords no sufficient ground for assuming that the word is an etymological corruption."